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NCLB Outrages

Leaders of 4 'F' Schools Are Now Up for Bonuses

Go figure.

All those who believe in merit pay should read this article and think about the implications. All those who don't believe in merit pay should read it for the same reason.


By Elissa Gootman

When Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg released stark new report cards last fall, grading all schools on a scale of A through F, the Acorn High School for Social Justice, in Brooklyn, was branded with an F. Later on, its principal, Joseph Parker, resigned under pressure.

But now, the Acorn school is on another, more auspicious list. It is one of 335 schools that are performing so well that their principals and assistant principals are eligible for bonuses.

Administrators at four schools that received F's, and five that earned D's, are eligible for the bonuses, which range from $5,500 to $15,000 for principals and from $2,750 to $7,500 for assistant principals.

According to the list — posted on the Web site of the Council of School Supervisors and Administrators, the union representing principals and assistant principals — other F schools whose administrators are eligible for the bonus are William H. Maxwell Career and Technical Education High School and Automotive High School, both in Brooklyn, and the Legacy School for Integrated Studies in Manhattan.

Education Department officials said the incongruity resulted from two different measuring systems.

The school report cards judge schools on factors that are not considered in allotting the bonuses. The report cards, for instance, judge high schools on how students perform on five Regents exams, while the bonuses look only at English and math Regents scores. The report cards also consider how many credits high school students accumulate each year, while the bonus system does not.

Melody Meyer, a spokeswoman for the department, said that next year bonuses would be awarded according to the same, "more sophisticated" criteria used to determine school grades. She pointed out that nearly 90 percent of schools whose administrators were eligible for this year's bonus received an A or a B on their progress reports.

Ernest A. Logan, president of the principals union, said in a statement that he could not "speak to the correlation between school progress reports and the performance differentials my members earn."

He added, "I can say that we have done a great deal of negotiating to get key modifications made to the progress report system."

As for Mr. Parker, who is now a principal's intern at Curtis High School on Staten Island, earning $128,662, Ms. Meyer said he would be eligible for the bonus. Schools Chancellor Joel I. Klein, she said, believes that Mr. Parker is "a good leader who was not matched in the right school."

Robert Jackson, chairman of the City Council Education Committee, chuckled after hearing of the difference between the two methods of judging schools and their administrators.

"I think an explanation is clearly appropriate," he said. "It doesn̢۪t make common sense. It doesn̢۪t line up."

— Elissa Gootman
New York Times
2008-06-06


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